Tag Archives: Instagram

Key Initiative Scavenger Hunt for Ronald McDonald House of Central Florida

Rally your friends, family, and co-workers, form a team of up to 6 individuals and put your detective skills to the test! This fun and unique scavenger hunt will take place throughout Downtown Orlando and Thornton Park on Sunday, April 8th from 12:30pm-5:00pm.

The top three teams will be awarded prizes!

PLEASE NOTE: This scavenger hunt will be conducted entirely through Instagram, so if you haven’t downloaded the app yet – now is the time!

Not sure what to think? Open up Instagram and search for: #KISHO2016 to see some submissions from last year.

Registration fees

Individual- $30.00 each

Team of up to 6 people- $150 each

Prices will increase on April 1st!

Sponsorships are available for $300.

Event timeline

  • 12:30pm: Check-in at World of Beer
  • 1:00pm: The rules for the hunt will be reviewed with all participants
  • 1:15pm: All teams are released and the hunt begins
  • 4:15pm: The hunt ends and all teams head back to World of Beer
  • 4:30pm: Check-in at World of Beer, enjoy drink & appetizer specials
  • 5:00pm: Top three winning teams announced and prizes will be awarded

Questions?

If you have questions, please email Shelley Butler or give her a call at 407-206-0957 ext 106.

26th Annual Taste of the Nation for No Kid Hungry sears off tonight!

Central Florida Top 5 Instagram fans, prepare yourselves. No, seriously. You may want to sit down for this.

As you’ve seen, we’ve been quite food heavy recently with the photos, tempting you with tasty goodies from our neighbors. Tonight will be no exception.

An event SO massive, it will be a food coma for your eyeballs (while helping a great cause)!

And if you saw how much fun we had supporting last year’s Taste of the Nation, this year is sure to be even more special!

#OrlTaste #NoKidHungry

Central Florida’s foremost culinary experts will be on deck at Orlando World Center Marriott cooking up their support for No Kid Hungry, a Share Our Strength campaign to end childhood hunger in America.

With a 26 year legacy of combating childhood hunger locally and across the nation, Orlando’s Taste of the Nation has raised millions in critical funds to support children’s nutrition programs provided by local beneficiaries Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida and Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, regional beneficiary Florida Impact, and national beneficiary Share Our Strength.

Taste of the Nation 2015

Of the 44 restaurants participating this year, twelve are brand new to the event including; Artist Point at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort, Black Fire Bull, MOOR and Old Hickory Steakhouse at Gaylord Palms Resort, Highball and Harvest at Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes, Itta Bena and Lafayette’s Music Room at Pointe Orlando, Tapa Toro Tapas Bar at I-Drive 360, TR Fire Grill, The Whiskey, Urban Tide Hyatt Regency, and Yak & Yeti at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

In preparation for Taste of the Nation 2015, several Central Florida hot spots have stepped up to help our friends and neighbors;

  • World of Beer Dr. Phillips and Downtown Orlando have both been donating a dollar from each pint sold, and will directly benefit our friends at Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida and Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida!
  • Eola Wine Company also jumped into help with their Wednesday weekly wine tastings with a $15 donation at the door, also benefitting the Coalition and Second Harvest.
  • In case you can’t make it out to the event, through tonight, Ancient Olive in Winter Park is donating one dollar from each bottle of their ultra-premium extra virgin olive oils, aged balsamic vinegars, and flavor-infused olive oils sold between July 7 and August 8.
  • In July, Hawkers Asian Street Fare in Orlando and Jacksonville started the Roti for a Cause campaign. Guests enjoyed a free round of Hawkers’ signature Malaysian-style flatbread Roti Canai for donating a minimum of $2 on behalf of Share Our Strength’s childhood hunger relief programs which helps people in need locally and across the country. Generous eaters were also entered into a drawing to win tickets to Taste of the Nation, so if you see the winners tonight be sure to thank them and Hawkers for helping our community!

Also new to this year’s event is The Giving Tree, a towering tree that will give participants an opportunity to win a taste of Orlando’s most popular restaurants. For a $50 donation, participants are invited to choose a hanging envelope from the tree; each hanging envelope contains a restaurant gift card ranging from $50 to $200 in value. Not a bad deal!

Make sure to follow along with us on Instagram and Twitter as our Central Florida food femme, Kari, experiences the appetizers, entrees, desserts, spirits, Wine Cellar game and fully automated mobile silent auction featuring signed memorabilia, stays at upscale hotels, dining experiences, rounds of golf on area courses, and exotic adventures and getaways at Taste of the Nation for the first time!

Complete list of restaurants participating: 

1. 4Rivers Smokehouse and The Coop

2. A Land Remembered at Rosen Shingle Creek

3. Artist Point at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort

4. B Resort and Spa and American Q

5. B.B. King’s Blues Club

6. Black Fire Bull

7. Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine

8. Cafe Tu Tu Tango

9. Cala Bella Restaurant at Rosen Shingle Creek

10. Capa at Four Seasons Resort Orlando

11. The Capital Grille Orlando & Millenia

12. Cress Restaurant

13. Cuba Libre

14. Dragonfly Robata Sushi & Grill

15. Emeril’s Tchoup Chop

16. Empress Sissi Cake & Pastry Specialties

17. Fresh Point

18. Fulton’s Crab House, Downtown Disney

19. Highball and Harvest at Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes

20. Itta Bena

21. JJ’s Grille

22. JW Marriott

23. K Restaurant and Wine Bar

24. Lafayette’s Music Room

25. Marlow’s Tavern

26. MOOR at Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center

27. Old Hickory Steakhouse at Gaylord Palms Resort

28. Opa Orlando

29. Orlando Airport Marriott Lakeside

30. Orlando World Center Marriott

31. Red Wing Restaurant

32. Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld

33. Seasons 52 Fresh Grill

34. SeaWorld Orlando

35. Second Harvest Food Bank -Culinary Training Program

36. Soco Thornton Park

37. Symphony Pastries

38. Tapa Toro Tapas Bar

39. Three2OH Ice Cream

40.TR Fire Grill

41. Universal Orlando Resort

42. Urban Tide Hyatt Regency

43. The Whiskey

44. Yak & Yeti Restaurant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

 

Orlando’s Taste of the Nation is presented nationally by Citi and Sysco and sponsored nationally by media sponsor Food Network, and in select markets by Emmi Roth USA, OpenTable, and Kikkoman Sales USA, Inc. Special thanks to local sponsors AmeriFactors, Regions Bank, Darden Restaurants, Quality One Wireless, Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort, and Heron Lawn and Pest Control, as well as Orkin in Atlanta, GA.

ABOUT ORLANDO’S TASTE OF THE NATION® FOR NO KID HUNGRY

Orlando’s Taste of the Nation® for No Kid Hungry brings together the area’s top chefs who donate their time, talent and passion to end childhood hunger in Central Florida. Along with culinary delights, guests have the opportunity to sample select wines, cocktails and premium beers and enjoy silent and live auctions and entertainment. Every dollar raised fights hunger and homelessness in the Central Florida. Local beneficiaries include Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida and Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.
ABOUT SHARE OUR STRENGTH

Share Our Strength®, a national nonprofit, is ending childhood hunger in America by connecting children with the nutritious food they need to lead healthy, active lives. Through its No Kid Hungry® campaign—a national effort to end childhood hunger in America—Share Our Strength ensures children in need are enrolled in effective federal nutrition programs; invests in community organizations fighting hunger; teaches families how to cook healthy, affordable meals; and builds public-private partnerships to end childhood hunger, at the state and city level. Working closely with the culinary industry and relying on the strength of its volunteers, Share Our Strength hosts innovative culinary fundraising events and develops pioneering cause marketing campaigns that support No Kid Hungry.

Interview | Mark Simmons -Former Seaworld Trainer

Guest post By: Kaylin Williams be sure to follow her on Instagram: @Blessedbytheorcas

Hey there everyone! I’m Kaylin Williams and I recently asked Mark Simmons, Former senior killer whale trainer for SeaWorld, appeared in the film ‘Blackfish’, and authors of ‘Killing Keiko’ (Coming out in August) a few questions. 

KW- At what age did you realize that you wanted to be a SeaWorld animal trainer?

MS- “I was 17 when I first visited a SeaWorld park.  I knew instantly.”

KW- How would you describe the care and research SeaWorld applies toward their Killer Whales?

MS- “Second to none. Over the course of an amazing career (thus far) I’ve had the opportunity to consult for nearly 30 different facilities and research organizations worldwide.  I have never seen anything yet that matches the level of sophistication, commitment and resources that are put into animal welfare in the SeaWorld parks. Other than the wealthiest one percent, I doubt there are many people that receive the same benefits and dedications of professionals who help to ensure a happy, healthy life as the animals receive at SeaWorld.”

KW- What do you think it MEANS to BE a SeaWorld animal trainer?

MS- “Most of us are familiar with animal/human relationships.  Whether that’s having a pet or the many and varied ways we engage animals throughout our society. But working “with” an animal in a positive reinforcement atmosphere where relationship is the coveted “Pulitzer Prize” is a remarkable and truly indescribable journey. A pure relationship, cultivated in a positive and stimulating environment removes the barriers between animals and people. It is not threatening, it is not punitive; it is most certainly not domination. It is working together toward a common goal, helping each other, trusting each other and building on that bond over time. I have never been more enthralled with animals than when working with them in this capacity – and that’s true of rescued animals we’ve returned to the wild as much as animals in our daily care. Though the program goals may differ, the tenants of learning and behavior are the same. It’s a level of relationship I wish everyone could experience at least once in their lifetime.”MarkSimmons

KW- What are you doing currently to get the truth out about SeaWorld Parks?

MS- “I don’t expressly support SeaWorld in any direct way.  I advocate the continued development of zoological sciences as a whole. We are now facing the brunt of a century of industrialization – persistent ocean contaminants.  Everything we do (and have done) ends up in our oceans. Think of the ocean as a giant air filter for the earth ecosystems. I believe “conservation” is what we do today that will benefit our grandchildren and their children. But nothing we do now will stop the tidal wave of destruction yet unfolding. Evidence abounds all over the world’s oceans that we are now facing tropic collapse starting with many well-known and higher order apex predators. That’s a very scary situation. I’ve seen it first-hand, and the peer-reviewed science is there to provide ample testimony to this fact. If we have any hope of preserving a species, it will require proactive environmental assessment and the knowledge and expertise, financial resources and public “will” to carry out these measures. The vast majority of these resources come from the zoological field.  Now is not the time to back away from our zoological expertise. It’s an asset that belongs to the public as a whole. Now more than ever we will need to rely on that asset to help treat and salvage what we can. The conversation on animals in human care has taken place in a vacuum, emotionally charged by sensational films like Blackfish (void of context). If there’s any hope of preserving a species, wild or not, we’ve got to start focusing on real threats.”

KW- What is your view on ‘Blackfish’ and the affect it’s had on the public?

MS- “Blackfish is a film produced by people; people with their own ideas, agendas and machinations on exploiting the animal/human bond. There are simply too many fallacies and too much disinformation in the film to adequately dissect in the scope of this response. Nonetheless, I would categorically say the film has become a profound public disservice toward the future of marine life conservation and preservation. I would also note that these high profile exotic animals attract public attention and the “profits” or “donations” (whichever term you like best) that come along with it. It’s important to remember that money plays a role on both sides of the proverbial table. In the zoological field, it pays for unbelievably complex and advanced care as well as the conservation programs that support marine species in the wild.

KW-What changes do you think SeaWorld needs to apply to the care and display of their animals, if any?

MS- “While I have not worked at SeaWorld in more than 15 years, I am not aware of any programmatic changes that I could offer.  Like many others, I’d love to see new habitats established that incorporate all the best modern technology has to offer, but if I know SeaWorld, I suspect we’ll see precisely that in the not too distant future. However, it’s important to realize that the characteristics of an animal (or person’s) environment, does not alone define quality of life. To inject a little humor here, “bigger” is not unequivocally better.  More important is that the animals’ receive a constant flow of positive novel stimuli in their day to day lives. Social change, physical exertion, mental challenge (new learning) and variety are the spices of life.  As we saw with Keiko, and other animals given the choice, once they have a bond with humans, it’s strong enough to outweigh access to a wild environment.”

KW- Do you think waterwork behaviors with Killer Whales should return to shows again?

MS- “A resounding “Yes.” Whether in shows or another capacity, the ability to interact bodily and directly with the whales is a favored form of stimulation and enrichment (for trainers and the animals). Remember, Tilikum (who was responsible for the only death in a SeaWorld park) was not raised in the SeaWorld system. He was never taught human-whale water etiquette.  Worse, he has an abusive history in his past life and one of the results is the aberrant possessiveness of foreign objects in the water; a dangerous combination. Judging the safety of killer whale/human water interaction on the basis of one highly unique outlier (Tilikum) is an injustice to the many other whales in SeaWorld parks. Between my wife and me, we represent nearly 23 years of killer whale waterwork, thousands upon thousands of in-water interactions. In that time, neither of us ever had one single incident to speak of. When you watch Blackfish you’d think a trainer couldn’t survive a week at SeaWorld.  I watch Blackfish and I can’t reconcile the world they portray with the world I know intimately. It’s a shame that most do not have this frame of reference and therefore fall victim to heavy-handed artistic license (to put it mildly).”

Mark also added, “I’d also caution against delineating “shows” as having any bearing on this topic.  Shows are nothing more than another type or variety of interaction between the whales and trainers. They are immensely rewarding experiences for the animals – in fact, by association the show pools are the most popular “hang out” for the animals even in their private time. From my own experiences (and allowing a little interpretation here), I’d go so far as to say many of the animal’s love “showing off” for audiences. Yet there’s a much more important function of shows. We live in a society that invests billions in entertainment.  From NFL, NBA to NASCAR and Hollywood; entertainment drives our attention. Imagine if marine life conservation and animal awareness were entertaining. Imagine if it were not.”

KW- Do you think moving these whales to a sea pen is a good idea?

MS- “Every environment, wild, sanctuary or man-made has its positives and negatives.  If the ocean was the pristine environment like we all want to believe, I’d say create a habitat wherever you please (but the ocean is not pristine and that’s another topic for another day). It’s not the environment that alone defines quality of life. While the size or characteristics of an environment can be factors in determining quality of life, they are secondary to other important psychological, social and physiological needs. This is a complex topic that MUST include an understanding of each animal’s learning history (its ontogenetic history). Imagine you were raised in a high-rise apartment in the city. You had a wonderful childhood and stimulating lifestyle. All of a sudden I decide that you’re better off in the country. So I pull you away from that which you know and plop you on a hillside. There, now you’re happier now, right?  My point: The book of life cannot be judged by its cover, and quality of life is not so simply defined.” 

KW- What gave you the inspiration to write “Killing Keiko”?

MS- “Keiko’s story is powerful, but not for the reasons that most would assume. It’s a love story, a story of overcoming the impossible, a hope-filled story and a heart-breaking story. It’s also a lesson far too valuable to leave in the dark. But I guess my inspiration was the experience and the journey itself. When I talk to my colleagues, who also worked on the front-lines of the project, we all have at least one thing in common: Keiko left a permanent mark on ,each of us. I truly didn’t have much choice in the matter, the book wrote itself in my head over many years. Putting it on paper was a release. And in the end, I hope it honors Keiko and the people who poured their hearts out to ensure Keiko’s life.”

KW- What do you hope people take from the book as a whole?

MS- “That’s tough to answer without giving away the pinnacle of the story.  I’ll leave it at this – I hope we learn to collaborate.  I hope we (as a society) realize that there is no separation between zoological and wildlife management. One might support one, both or the other.  Agreeing to disagree is okay.  But common ground has to be found.  I hope we recognize that we have the public will to do what needs be done, but that we remember emotion alone is not a tenant of good stewardship.  I hope Keiko’s story reminds us to invest in relevant expertise and critical thinking to guide the way.”

———————-

I’d like to thank Mark Simmons for talking to me about the conservation, protection, and preservation of marine life. I’m so excited for the book to come out! I highly recommend pre-ordering it right now! Go preorder ‘Killing Keiko’ at killingkeiko.com and to find out more about the animal welfare and care being put towards all animals in SeaWorld Parks at seaworldcares.com Thank you!

 

*Thank you to every avid SeaWorld supporter that is here to spread awareness! Please read The Truth about SeaWorld Parks, The Blackfish Backlash

Business inquiries: If there is anything you want me to be involved with, rather it be a class, workshop, internship, article or interview or anything please contact me through Instagram: @Blessedbytheorcas

Check out another article by Kaylin Williams  for Kyle Kittleson: marinemammaltrainer.com/seaworlds-history/

Interview | Bridgette Pirtle – Former Senior Killer Whale Trainer at SeaWorld

Guest post By: Kaylin Williams be sure to follow her on Instagram: @Blessedbytheorcas

Hey there everyone! I recently spoke with Bridgette Pirtle/Davis, former SeaWorld San Antonio’s Senior Killer Whale Trainer who was even involved with the ‘Blackfish’ campaign, and asked her a few questions about her work with SeaWorld and other animal welfare topics. Here’s what she had to say. 

KW- At what age did you want to be a SeaWorld trainer?

BP- “I was three years old when I decided I was born to be a “whale rider.” My family had taken our first big, getaway vacation together to Orlando and that was the first time I saw killer whales. The first interaction I experienced was a simple learning session in between shows. Standing in the empty stadium, I watched the trainer feed Namu, Shamu and Baby Shamu. That moment shaped my dreams and aspirations for decades to come. Everything I did revolved around my love for the animals, my passion for the job and my dream of becoming a SeaWorld killer whale trainer. Just fifteen years following that first interaction, I would be living my dream of being a SeaWorld animal trainer.”

KW- How would you describe the care and research SeaWorld applies toward their killer whales?

BP- “SeaWorldʼs care and research is the pinnacle of the industry. I was fortunate to be a part of several different research projects throughout my ten years there. From visual acuity to respiratory capacity, there was ample opportunity to add to our knowledge of killer whales through the research projects made possible by facilities like SeaWorld. Since I was young, the most impressive contributions to our understandings of the cetaceans all came from zoological facilities like SeaWorld. One of my favorite revelations is one that came recently from a SeaWorld park. Because of their dedication to research, we now know that killer whales are capable of learning different dialects of communication. That’s unbelievable.”

She also commented on SeaWorld’s Killer Whale care,“As far as care, you will never meet anyone more dedicated to their job than the trainers and zookeepers of SeaWorld. Each and every day centers on providing the very best for the animals in their care. It is a responsibility that, as a trainer, you take to heart. There is not a moment in your life that you are not prepared to drop anything you are doing to answer to the needs of your animals. The passion and love for the animals fuels a trainer’s drive to do the best and give everything they can to the animals each time they step poolside.”BridgettePirtle

KW- What is your view on ‘Blackfish’ and the effect it had on the public?

BP- “‘Blackfish’ is very selfish and misinformative. It’s an egocentric, misguided representation of what a few mislead individuals feel would be best for the animals they used to care for. As a whole, the film manipulates its viewers through craftily edited footage that is mostly outdated. Quick cuts from out-of-context show clips from decades ago mislead an audience to believe aggressions occurred, when the reality of the situation, no aggression took place. It’s deceiving enough to fool even experienced former trainers like myself. Even I fell victim to its message initially. I was grateful that I learned to ask the right questions and that is when the truth was revealed to me. These former trainers were mostly inexperienced and outdated. Their limited perspectives from their minimal time working at SeaWorld were misrepresented.

As far as their contribution to understanding modern day safety protocols in killer whale training, their contribution is absolutely irrelevant. To have anyone argue that what they experienced decades ago is relevant now is arrogant and quite ignorant as well. On top of having a very limited understanding of killer whale training, you have a manipulative representation of killer whale researchers who are more accurately “activists masquerading as scientists.” (I’d like to give the credit to Eric Davis of Unofficial SeaWorld Podcast for that description. It’s very appropriate and very accurate.) Longevity estimates are manipulated. Contradictions are prevalent throughout the film. All of these faults are disguised within clever edits and a beautiful soundtrack. At its very core, the film was exploitive. In pursuit of superficial Hollywood success, ‘Blackfish’ further exploited the lives of Dawn, Keltie and Alexis all to perpetuate a radical activist agenda that would spawn a movement that supports actions that represent a death sentence to animals.

Overall, it’s scary to see so many people look to ‘Blackfish’ as factual. It’s anything but a fact-based documentary. It’s opinion-driven, fueled by outdated experiences and contrived scientific studies. Events recalled by former trainers are exaggerated or, even worse, fabricated. It is a tool of animal activist propaganda that takes advantage of a mainstream audience that lacks the knowledge of a more appropriate and current depiction of animal training and zoological facilities operating today. This, in turn, encourages those within its gullible audience to leap for the “‘Blackfish’ bandwagon” before they truly have a well-grounded, accurately depicted understanding of the issues at hand. ‘Blackfish’ is misleading in that it takes you on this journey that focuses on Dawn, how she was an inspiration in so many ways throughout her life, and you are lead to believe that now, this anti-SeaWorld, anti-captivity spin zone that has materialized in the weeks following the films’ release is a part of Dawn’s story. That couldn’t be further from the truth. The film exploited the positive impact and the lasting impression Dawn had on the lives of so many animals and people by twisting it into an egocentric, self-serving purpose of promoting the activists’ disorganized and irrational ideas of rehabilitating the animals. It’s important to approach such discussions as captivity pragmatically.

I truly believe that once the audience lifts the wool from over their eyes and begin to take responsibility of their knowledge and understanding of the issues and ask questions that reveal the truth stripped by the emotional ploys of the film, they will realize again, like the sad saga of Keiko, that Blackfish is yet another manipulative tactic by animal activists attempting to gain mainstream support for their poorly-founded, extremist ideas that serve to spell a huge setback in the area of animal welfare.”

KW- What changes do you think SeaWorld needs to apply to the care and display of their animals, if any?

BP- “My favorite thing from my years of being an animal trainer was enrichment. Playtimes and relationship sessions were integral to establishing strong relationships with your animals. I’ve recently seen and heard of some of the amazing additions to the areas that really serve to show a dedication SeaWorld has for giving the animals the very best. Animals are enriched with sessions that involve touchscreen interactions that serve to provide an even deeper understanding of the mental capacity of these creatures. The facilities are continuing to evolve to provide cutting edge safety for both the trainers and the animals.

The most impressive part of these recent additions is that they are being incorporated into the animals’ areas in a way that also provides environmental enrichment. Fast-rising false bottom floors not only allow trainers and killer whales to interact safely, but the floors itself can be used as environmental stimulation that adds a valuable layer of enrichment for the animals. The actions I’ve seen SeaWorld take are amazing. They truly do have the animals’ and trainers’ care and safety forefront in their minds.”

KW- What are you doing currently to get the truth out about SeaWorld?

BP- “I’ve always been very open and honest about what I’ve experienced these past couple of years. I believe that by sharing firsthand knowledge I acquired during my brief involvement with the film will reveal a more appropriate depiction of what honestly motivated those involved in making the film and what continues to motivate them now. It’s all very self-serving. The strongest examples of animal welfare experts are those dedicating their lives to the animals each and every day. They are sweating in wetsuits, not parading on red carpets.I honestly believe that, by sharing my experiences from my ten years at SeaWorld, I can use these experiences as a way to encourage others to take the same path and dedicate their own lives to caring for animals responsibly. Being with the whales at Sea World was the best time of my life. Those pictures represent a culmination of a dream that started when I was 3 years old. I loved the whales and continue to love them. I will never be anything less than proud of my time at SeaWorld and the things I accomplished with the whales. It was a magical time that allowed me to live my dream and share it with others.

I realize I won’t please everyone, but have come to value speaking the truth in love.

I want to lay out my core beliefs in regards to animals & human life:

• Both are to be highly regarded and respected

• We are stewards of this earth & the animals left to our care

• It is possible to have animals in captivity with doing harm

• Captivity does serve a purpose in educating the public

• Waterworks is a connection between you and the animal that can only be felt when experienced

• Though my opinion may differ from others I will respect that opinion without criticism or judgment (Well, that’s my prayer with God’s help. Forgive me when I fail.) The reality is that, by sharing my story through whatever means available (whether it be social media, local newspapers or even Fox News), I can hopefully help contribute positively and constructively to a healthier and truer image of what it means to honestly and selflessly care for animals, and have their best in heart and mind as it pertains to their welfare.”

KW- What do you think it means to be a SeaWorld trainer?

BP- “It’s the culmination of a dream that began when I was three years old. It’s an honor and a privilege that very few get the opportunity to be a part of. Being a trainer is about genuine passion, selfless sacrifice, and endless dedication each and every day. I will never be anything less than proud of my time at SeaWorld and all the things I accomplished caring for the animals. Being an animal trainer, you are blessed with an opportunity to not only live out your own dream but also to share that dream with thousands of others and hopefully inspire them to pursue the same dream of devoting their best to caring for the animals.”

KW- Do you think that waterwork behaviors with killer whales should return to shows?

BP- “Simple answer to a complex question… Yes. Here’s why- I believe that maintaining a positive reinforcement history with waterwork desensitization is in the best interest for the safety of both the animals and the trainers. One of the most important concepts within behavior modification is maintaining a strong reinforcement history of a myriad of different behaviors within various contexts. This includes waterwork behaviors in a variety of different interactions, including show performances. I believe SeaWorld is doing a wonderful job in applying these behavioral principles to the best of their ability within the recent constraints given by the OSHA findings. Taking the government out of the equation, SeaWorld has always been at the top of the industry when it comes to safety within its killer whale training program. SeaWorld’s trainers literally wrote the book on the most successful and effective methods of operant conditioning and positive reinforcement. That being said, I side with SeaWorld in that slowly and safely re-introducing waterwork in many different contexts, including shows, would be in the best interest of creating the safest working environment for both the animals and the trainers. By the government establishing these requirements that restrict waterwork interactions to a non-performance context, it is creating opportunities for discrimination to occur that increase risk factors rather than minimize them.

I believe that the training staff at Shamu Theater can safely and successfully re-integrate waterwork behaviors within multiple contexts that will benefit the animals by improving the quality of hands-on care that the trainers are capable of providing as well as significantly improving upon the safety of both the trainers and the animals.”

KW- Do you think moving the whales to a sea pen is a good idea?

BP- “Absolutely not. It’s more like one of the most misguided, horrible ideas ever on so many levels. These ideas being introduced haphazardly to Congress are done so on a whim to capitalize on this so-called “‘Blackfish’ effect” without thorough thought or consideration to what’s truly in the best interest of the animals. These so-called animal welfare acts are in all actuality a death sentence for the animals they involve. Bills are being presented in a way that seems more like incomplete sentences in their attempt to tell the masses that whales need to be released, even though they don’t know exactly the who, what, when, where, why or how of the situation. It’s again a very egocentric way of force-feeding their radical activist agenda to the gullible masses without any legitimate rhyme or reason. Sea pens would compromise the safety and well-being of not only the animals, but also the trainers.

The sad reality of the situation is that this isn’t the first time that our generation has seen such a gross misrepresentation of animal welfare. Keiko is an excellent example of how attempting to release an animal at any cost causes more harm to the animal than good. I, personally, am very much looking forward to reading Mark Simmons’s book, ‘Killing Keiko’. I am certain it will provide much needed insight into what truly happened during the attempt to release the star of Free Willy once the message of the project’s activist influence took precedence over what was in the best interest of the Keiko’s well-being. With Keiko, we have a disheartening example of what extremes these self-proclaimed scientists are willing to go to, all in the arrogant pursuit of proving their point. I certainly pray that society sees through this and steps forward to prevent such a sad chapter of our history from repeating itself.”

KW- Before we go would you like to add anything else?

BP- “My first steps into Blackfish were truly honorable. At that time, I was lead to believe that this film was being created with the intentions of accomplishing a positive change for the animals I cared for during my career at SeaWorld while honoring the memory of Dawn and the powerful impact she had on the lives of the animals and so many people. Initially, I hoped to speak about opportunities to provide something even greater for the animals and how I felt SeaWorld could make a more powerful impact on the lives of both the animals and the trainers.As I started to form these connections amongst those involved with the film, I began to feel prompted to compromise my own core values that centered around my love and respect for the animals in order to fit into the agenda of Blackfish.

My conscience began to bother me as I felt a disconnect between my core beliefs and that which I was saying and doing to fit into the agenda of the film.I began to learn how to ask the right questions, and with them the inconsistencies within the stories entwined in Blackfish were revealed to me. Slowly, unsettling answers revealed that the message of Blackfish was no longer one of hope and inspiration. Instead, I felt it shift towards frivolous accusations and fabricated stories in a craftily edited attempt to paint SeaWorld as evil. My message of truth, respect and opportunity was absent as the film’s message had morphed into one that exploited two tragic losses in the interest of perpetuating an activist agenda.”

She also added,“I never intended on becoming involved with a film set on villianizing SeaWorld. Being with the whales at SeaWorld was the best time of my life. During my association with the film, I was operating in a fluid environment, filled with uncertainties and conflicting emotions and values. In the past few months, I have returned to my own core values. The relationships I had with the animals and my time at SeaWorld were integral in instilling these values of honesty and respect within myself. By no longer compromising my own experiences and beliefs, I hope to better represent a more respectful role that not only speaks out for the animals, but also those of SeaWorld being unfairly criticized as they continue dedicating so much while caring for the animals. These trainers sacrifice every day to give their best and they deserve to be viewed as compassionate heroes. The ten years I spent caring for the animals represent the culmination of a dream that started when I was 3 years old. I will never be anything less than proud of my time at SeaWorld and all the things I accomplished caring for the animals. SeaWorld blessed me with an opportunity that not only allowed me to live my dream of connecting with and caring for the killer whales but also to share that dream and inspire others to pursue the same.”

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I would like to thank Bridgette Pirtle/Davis for speaking with me about all the amazing things SeaWorld does and how ‘Blackfish’ had a misleading masquerade of fallacies to meet an activist agenda. Thank you for reading. Always remember that you can’t always see the silver lining, doing your research is a big part of learning and becoming educated on what SeaWorld really strives to do.

*Thank you to every avid SeaWorld supporter that is here to spread awareness! Please read The Truth about SeaWorld Parks, The Blackfish Backlash

Business inquiries: If there is anything you want me to be involved with, rather it be a class, workshop, internship, article or interview or anything please contact me through Instagram: @Blessedbytheorcas

Check out another article by Kaylin Williams  for Kyle Kittleson: marinemammaltrainer.com/seaworlds-history/